Can you believe how the time flies? With our undivided attention focused on Doc Rivers for much of the last two weeks, we’ve suddenly come upon the 2013 NBA Draft. Here’s my take on how I expect the draft (should, not will) pan out, with some more depth coming in on potential Celtics prospects in the next few days.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers – Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas
The Cavs may not keep this pick, but even if they do McLemore should be it. He’s more of a sure thing than Nerlens Noel, Alex Len, or Anthony Bennett. I know they drafted Dion Waiters 4th last year, but if McLemore is the best player (I think he is) he should be the pick. For player comp think: Eric Gordon, Bradley Beal, Ray Allen.
2. Orlando Magic – Anthony Bennett, F, UNLV
A shoulder injury kept him out of the Draft Combine and workouts. Bennett may be the best athlete in the draft. He averaged 16 points, 8 rebounds at UNLV last season, his game may be better suited for the NBA. Heard the report that he weighs 261 now, I’m not too concerned, just keep him away from Glen Davis.
3. Washington Wizards – Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown
A lot of people believe the Georgetown forward will stay in DC. The Wiz have Wall and Beal in their backcourt and would benefit from a play maker like Porter. He dramatically improved his deep shooting from his freshmen year (22% from 3) to his sophomore year (42%). Smart player and a good passer, I don’t think he has the highest ceiling but his floor is higher than most in the draft.
4. Charlotte Bobcats – Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky
I’m rooting for Noel. He’s from Everett, MA and played prep school ball up in Tilton, NH. But at 6’11 and a cheeseburger over 200 pounds, I really question his ability to stack up with NBA big men. He may still be the first overall pick, but I wouldn’t do it. I’m not worried about his agents, more how he will compete down low. Not to mention he’s coming off an ACL tear and his offensive game is sub par.
5. Phoenix Suns – Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana
A very solid player who is getting more attention because of the weak class. He can play defense, which at the very least should make him a viable NBA player for 10 years (barring injury). He can also shoot 3’s. (Bruce Bowen and Shane Battier made a nice living doing just that, although he is shorter than those guys.) I like Oladipo and expect him to be one of the better rookies next year.
6. New Orleans Pelicans – Alex Len, C, Mayland
Some buzz out there that Len could go as high as #1. He outplayed Noel in Maryland’s game vs. Kentucky this year. I saw the Terps play a few times this season, and like a lot of talented freshmen, he’d dominate one minute and then disappear for long stretches. Also there are an awful lot of white centers in this draft, what percentage of them will actually be any good?
7. Sacramento Kings – Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA
I want to like Muhammad. Fits all my criteria, highly touted High School Player, scorer, and someone you knew was going to be 1 and done before he evened picked his school. But then after an up and down season at UCLA (suspended early in the season, shot poor %, although he did average 18 a game), and we find out he’s older than we previously thought. How this happened I have no clue. Hey Shabazz, you’re not a Dominican baseball player. Born in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States, how do we not have a birth certificate? College freshmen lie all the time, but they want to be OLDER to buy booze and get into bars. Weak class should keep him in the Top 10.
8. Detroit Pistons – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia
One of the best players in the SEC on one of the worst teams in the conference, Caldwell-Pope was asked to do everything, and he did. Arguably the best scorer from the 2-guard spot in the draft, he can rebound, and shot free throws. He will need to work on his 3 point shot. One of my favorite players in the draft, along with this next guy.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves – C.J. McCollum, G, Lehigh
The closest thing to Stephen Curry in the draft. I don’t typically like seniors, but when they come from small schools (Damian Lillard) it can work. McCollum, a combo guard who can SCORE. 19.1, 21.8, 21.9, 23.9. Those were his scoring averages by year at Lehigh. He led his 15 seed Mountain Hawks past Austin Rivers and Duke two years ago in the NCAA tournament. (McCollum will undoubtedly be a better pro than Austin Rivers too for what it’s worth.)
10. Portland Trail Blazers – Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville
Might be a bit high for Dieng here. The Blazers had the worst depth in the league last year. Lillard and Aldridge is a great 1-2 punch and will provide most of the scoring along with Wes Mathews. Dieng, has no offensive game, but is the best defensive center in the class. Put him alongside Aldridge and he could be effective for Portland. They also drafted Meyers Leonard in the lottery last year and should develop. Or we could see a trade, the Blazers wheel and deal with the best of them on draft night.
11. Philadelphia 76ers – Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh
I hear a lot of great things about Adams, and I don’t get it. The New Zealander played one year at Pittsburgh (7 points, 6 rebounds). He’ll spend the whole year in the D-League, so good luck with that.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Raptors) – Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse
The Thunder went to hell when Russell Westbrook went down this past post season. The James Harden deal wasn’t good, there is no way around that. Carter-Williams can serve as a backup point, but can also play alongside Westbrook with both being interchangeable.
13. Dallas Mavericks – Trey Burke, PG, Michigan
Most expect the great Wolverine point guard to go in the Top 10, not me. He was awesome in college, leading his team to the Title Game. Burke is barely 6 foot tall, I’d bet on him being a career backup and not a starter. But I’m sure he’s heard that before.
14. Utah Jazz – Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany
The Rajon Rondo clone, Dennis Schroeder of Germany. With Dario Saric of Croatia pulling out of the draft, he should be the first international player off the board. There is a rumor that a team made him a promise all the way back at the combine. I say the Jazz take Schroeder, but I can’t promise you. Zing.
15. Milwaukee Bucks – Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego State
Bucks may lose Monta Ellis (unrestricted) and or Brandon Jennings (restricted) to free agency, also known as ALL of their scoring. Mid-season acquisition J.J. Redick could be gone too, so the Bucks will need a shooting guard. Franklin can score, but he can also do a bit of everything. He’s 6-5 and led the Aztecs in points, rebounds, assists, and steals last year. Not a 3-point shooter though… at all.
16. Boston Celtics – Cody Zeller, PF, Indiana
Zeller is one of 10 players to be invited to the Green Room, so it looks like the NBA certainly believes he will go higher than 16 to the Celtics. The C’s are in the rebuild now, and if they stay at 16 (it has been reported that Danny Ainge does not like this draft, most don’t) they should just take the best player available. If the first 15 picks go the way I mapped out (spoiler: they won’t) then the C’s should take Zeller, an extremely athletic 7 footer who can run the floor. (I also like Tony Mitchell and Tim Hardaway Jr., I’ll have more on potential Celtics picks later in the week.)
17. Atlanta Hawks – Giannis Adetokunbo, SF, Greece
The absolute best time to draft foreign players is in the 2nd round. But with a guy like Adetokunbo, teams won’t have that luxury. I also like grabbing an international guy if you have multiple picks in the 1st round, like the Hawks. Adetokunbo is 18 years old, a 6’9 small forward, and some compare him to Nic Batum. Worth a gamble in a draft like this.
18. Atlanta Hawks – Tony Mitchell, F, North Texas
Mitchell is one of my favorite players in the draft, and arguably the best athlete. He committed to Missouri out of high school but academic issues from transferring high schools prevented him from being a Tiger and he ended up at North Texas, where he averaged a double-double (15-10) as a freshmen. His numbers were not as good as a sophomore and he even admitted to not playing hard every game. (Yikes.) But I like the honesty, and North Texas had a new coaching staff which clearly didn’t work out (they were 12-20). I’d give Mitchell a chance though. He should go off the board anywhere from 15-25.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers (from Lakers) – Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga
Many predict Olynyk to go higher in the draft, but he has T-Rex arms and benched 185 only 5 times. (How is that possible? You’d think his small wingspan would help him in a drill like the bench press. That’s an embarrassingly low number. I bet all of you reading this could do 6 reps as the warm up at 185…) The Cavs could use a big man to play along with Tyler Zeller and Tristan Thompson, and if they pass on Noel or Len at #1, they may have Olynyk (who did put up 18-7 last year… points and rebounds not bench reps) waiting for them at #19.
20. Chicago Bulls – Allen Crabbe, SG, California
The Bulls seems to be looking for a shooting guard every year. (Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver, Marco Belinelli, Richard Hamilton…) And with Derrick Rose back (I assume), along with Deng, Boozer, Noah, Butler, and Teague, I bet they go shooting guard again. Jamaal Franklin (who I had go #15) could be in the mix, along with Tim Hardaway Jr.
21. Utah Jazz (from Warriors) – Mason Plumlee, PF/C, Duke
Not sure what the Jazz have up their sleeves with free agents Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap. They do return Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter, but big man depth can’t hurt. I have them getting their PG at #14 (Schroeder), I’d expect a PF/C here.
22. Brooklyn Nets – Shane Larkin, PG, Miami
The son of baseball hall of famer Barry Larkin, Shane tested off the charts at the combine. He proved that he was an elite athlete but he’s also under 6 feet. I think he has a chance to make it in the league, likely as a backup. And there are worse places to be than learning from and backing up Deron Williams in Brooklyn.
23. Indiana Pacers – Pierre Jackson, PG, Baylor
Another guy who is under 6 feet tall. The term “pit bull” gets used a lot in describing Pierre Jackson. I’m a fan of this guy. Put up 20 points, 7 assists, and 4 rebounds last year at Baylor. He competed at drills in the combines and at any pre-draft workout he could get his hands on, not afraid to go against anyone. The Pacers have built a solid roster, back up point is one place for improvement.
24. New York Knicks – Glen Rice Jr., SG/SF, Georgia Tech/ D-League
My cousin went to the same high school as Glen Rice Jr. down outside of Atlanta. He’s older, but was at one of his high school games and told me about the non stop trash talk Rice would dish out in games. He said that once on a break away (no one between him and the basket), he slowed down until the nearest defender was close enough so he could personally tell the guy off before he slammed it down. He was dismissed from Tech after his junior year and played in the D-League last year (Rio Grande Valley) where he scored 14.5 ppg and grabbed 6.6 rpg. Apparently he has matured, and I would take a chance on him.
25. Los Angeles Clippers – Tony Snell, SG/SF, New Mexico
Gifted athlete who can do a bit of everything, Snell played 3 years at New Mexico. He is 6-7 with long arms and I think could be a great bench player on a good team. Good looking jump shot and can defend on the ball. I wonder if Doc Rivers will play him?
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Grizzlies) – Sergey Karasev, SF, Russia
The T-Wolves certainly aren’t afraid of the international players, they had to fellow Russians on the team last year. What do we know about Karasev? He’s 19, 6-7, lefty, can shoot from anywhere, but he’s not exactly built like Drago. If he’s still on the board at 26, don’t expect the T-Wolves to let him pass by.
27. Denver Nuggets – Tim Hardaway Jr., SG/SF, Michigan
I’ve been a fan of Tim Hardaway Jr. and his pro prospects for a long time. I think he could go even higher than this. He is more NBA ready than a lot of prospects in the draft, and perhaps only contending teams would want to add him in the 1st round rather than shoot for the moon on potential (like some of the foreign players or Mitchell or Adams, etc.) He’s 6-6 (perfect 2-guard height), he’s strong, can handle well enough. Not saying he’ll be an All-Star but a solid 10-12 year pro, and in this draft, that’s something special.
28. San Antonio Spurs – Rudy Gobert, C, France
A lot of hype about this guy. I watched him participate in the draft combine and I thought he was the most uncoordinated man run down a basketball court since I saw Gheorghe Muresan playing for the Bullets against the Celtics at the old Garden. BUT. He is 7-2 with the longest wingspan in the history of measuring wingspans. (7-8.5) If Shawn Bradley was the 2nd pick in the draft, Rudy Gobert will go in the 1st round.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder – Reggie Bullock, SF, North Carolina
Bullock didn’t “wow” anyone at his career at UNC but he may end up being a better player than some of the recent Tar Heels to go pro. He can shoot. He’s also 6-7 and can handle and rebound a little bit. He won’t hurt you and would be a nice addition to a good team off the bench.
30. Phoenix Suns (from Heat) – Lucas Nogueira, C, Brazil
I wouldn’t take Lucas Nogueira. He is a legit 7 footer, despite weighing only 220 pounds. He’s not NBA ready. He’d be an ideal 2nd round pick, but a team like the Suns, picking in this spot could grab him and wait it out. This is all on potential. Watch some of his “highlights.” I’d pass.
31. Cavaliers (from Magic) – C.J. Leslie, F, N.C. State
32. Thunder (from Bobcats) – Erick Green, G, Virginia Tech
33. Cavaliers – Isaiah Canaan, PG, Murray State
34. Rockets (from Suns) – Jeff Withey, C, Kansas
35. 76ers (from Hornets) – Ricky Ledo, SG, Providence
36. Kings – Mike Muscala, PF, Bucknell
37. Pistons – Deshaun Thomas, SF, Ohio State
38. Wizards – Jackie Carmichael, PF, Illinois State
39. Trail Blazers (from T-Wolves) – Ray McCallum, PG, Detroit
40. Trail Blazers – Livio Jean-Charles, PF, France
41. Grizzlies (from Raptors) – Alex Abrines, SG, Spain
42. 76ers – Richard Howell, PF, N.C. State
43. Bucks – Nate Wolters, PG, South Dakota State
44. Mavericks – Archie Goodwin, SG, Kentucky
45. Trail Blazers (from Celtics) – James Southerland, F, Syracuse
46. Jazz – Colton Iverson, C, Colorado State
47. Hawks – Robert Covington, F, Tennessee State
48. Lakers – Phil Pressey, PG Missouri
49. Bulls – Lorenzo Brown, PG, N.C. State
50. Hawks (from Rockets) – Carrick Felix, SF, Arizona State
51. Magic (from Warriors) – Myck Kabongo, PG, Texas
52. Timberwolves (from Nets) – Trevor Mbakwe, PF Minnesota
53. Pacers – Ryan Kelly, PF, Duke
54. Wizards (from Knicks) – Kenny Kadji, C, Miami
55. Grizzlies – Peyton Siva, PG, Louisville
56. Pistons (from Clippers) – Erik Murphy, PF, Florida
57. Suns (from Nuggets) – Grant Jerrett, PF, Arizona
58. Spurs – James Ennis, SF, Long Beach State
59. Timberwolves (from Thunder) – Rodney Williams, SF, Minnesota
60. Grizzlies (from Heat) – Brandon Paul, SG, Illinois